The Day Has Finally Arrived
I awaited the chance to climb South Sister for quite some time now. My opportunity had finally arrived. I had made several planned attempts to climb this beautiful beast but came up short each time.
When I first arrived to Southern Oregon was when my mountain addiction really started kicking in. After researching a lot of the mountains located in this area, I had decided that South Sister was one that I wanted to climb. It sounded like it had pretty good views and was right up my alley as far as skill level goes. Plus I would get to stand above 10,000 feet. Something I hadn't done yet at that point.
I planned to climb it last summer, but things came up and it never happened. Then in July of this year my wife and I attempted it, but only got a couple of miles past Timberline when we were stopped by a migraine headache that caused her fingers to go numb.
My wife and I on our attempt in July
No mountain is that important!!
So I decided, this time I would go at it solo. This would be my first solo mountain climb above the 7000' level. Exactly two weeks after standing on the summit of Mount Whitney
, I would now be standing on the summit of South Sister.
Living about 4 hours away from the mountain, I had to get up really early to get there at sunrise. I was up at about 2 am, and on the road at about 3 am, dodging deer all the way to the trailhead, actually I never had to dodge any until the way back, but I must have seen 20+ along the roadside. It never fails for me to see deer when I am traveling Highway 62, 138 and 97 in the early morning hours.
I arrived at the trailhead a little bit after 7 am and got a start on the trail at about 7:20 am. What a difference a month makes, no snow heading through the timber and no mosquitoes. It made for quite a bit more pleasant of a hike through the timber this time.
- Once I hit the junction for the Moraine Lake Trail, the clouds really started moving in on me. From the get go, the summit of my destination was not visible. Broken top was visible however, but was slowly being engulfed by clouds.
As I got about 3 1/2 to 4 miles into the climb, the wind really started picking up, probably close to 30mph gusts with ice and snow flurries. This was not going to stop me. I have heard that if you can't see the summit because it is shrouded in clouds, to just give up and turn around, because the weather would be horrible on the summit. NO SUCH CHANCE!! I was prepared for this one. Warm clothes, emergency supplies, compass and determination, I was set. Rime covered everything, except for me.
I was however concerned that I would not have a view from the summit. But everything worked in my favor for this climb. I would have a view and I would be warm.
Mind you, this was August!!
- I had heard about the scree slopes heading to the summit on this mountain, that they were worse than the scree you encounter on Mount St. Helens. I believe it now. Hence the title of this trip report - Screediculously Fun! Two steps forward one step back, or two steps forward slide down a couple of feet. Actually it wasn't that bad, but you definately have to work a little to keep the climbing going up instead of down. It really seems like the last two miles or so on this mountain is nothing but scree. Pretty scree, I must add though, the red color of the rock is gorgeous.
So as I was on my final ascent up the scree slopes the clouds would move in along with the wind and then be gone in 10 seconds. This played on, back and forth for the next hour or so.
When I finally reached the summit, the only clouds that were there were the ones that were surrounding the summit in spots just below the 10,000' level. The views to the North of Middle and North Sister were awesome, and I believe I could even see Mount Washington in the distance. Most of the other views however seemed to be obscured by the clouds. But no complaints here.
Plenty of opportunity for Scree-skiing down the slopes. It sure is fun until you get the rocks in your shoe, then it's a pain, literally. Much warmer coming down than when I was going up. All of the rime that I encountered on the way up had already melted away in the hot afternoon sun. The views towards Mount Bachelor were pretty awesome. Tons of different colors to see. Total up and down time for a 12 mile round-trip was about 10 hours. That includes 1-2 hours at the summit. Not my best time, but who wants to rush.
Summit View Images